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Chapter Seven: "Brunch"

About an hour later, Thompson pulled into the parking lot of his destination. He cut the motor, stepped immediately out of his vehicle, and leaned against it. He looked up at the two-story motel. All of the dwelling doors faced the lot and the highway. The rain had let up, but the cloud cover remained. It thundered, and one of the downstairs doors opened as the blinds rustled the room’s window. Out stepped a lanky but stout-looking man wearing a ponytail and a skullcap. His leather jacket was in good shape, but bore no patches at all. Apparently a lone rider but for his lady partner. Contrary to what Thompson had expected, the man was not a tweaking meth head, which, considering some of the debris found at the Inland Inn, is what he had expected to catch, if anything, on this particular fishing expedition.

The men sized each other up, seemingly both rather surprised at each other’s normality. If he had expected a crackhead, there was no telling what the biker anticipated. It was admittedly a pretty low bar. It began to rain, and the stranger motioned toward the door of the motel room, which was still open.

“Wait a minute. Do you have a name?” the detective asked him.

“Yeah,” the man answered. “It’s Crimson. B.A. Crimson.”

In he walked, and Thompson followed. As soon as Thompson entered the dwelling, Crimson ducked, spun, and roundhouse kicked at the detective’s mid-section. Thompson saw it coming and was able to bend and block although he didn’t manage to dodge it entirely. The detective rolled while guarding his head. If the initial attack had come at his head, he could have ducked the attack completely. The inertia of his evasive action prevented him from just slipping right back out the still-opened door. The two men grappled, briefly, before the sound of the pump action on a shotgun diverted all of the fighers’ attention.

Crimson and Thompson both bounced up, and the detective looked up to see the weapon in the hands of a woman, handily covering him. She kicked the door closed. Her eyes were clear and willing. There was perilous silence, so Thompson very lowly cleared his throat. He moved his eyes from the woman’s glare to Crimson, cautious of any additional stealthy kicks or punches coming from the man who glowered, shadily, like a new brick watchtower.
To the detective’s great relief, “Who are you?” finally the woman asked him, though she did not release him from her platinum maw, and she did not lower the weapon. He thought of his own, holstered under his coat.

“Thompson,” he answered, still holding his body carefully still.

“What’s your business?” she demanded curtly.

“I am investigating a murder. And I can understand your cautions approach, considering what I’ve seen around here in the past 24 hours,” he answered.

“What do you know about the residents of the Inland Inn? What happened up there last night?” she further prodded. He met her cocked-up binocular stare with his own.

“You mind if I go ahead and sit down here at the table?” he asked. She didn’t answer, but he gently slid over, careful to remain facing her. He sat down at the plastic-topped table. Only then did he, for just a moment, finally break their interlocking gazes. She lowered the barrel slightly, controlling the weapon in a less visibly aggressive but still very technically threatening manner.

“Then tell me, what is your stake in this stretch of highway?” he asked. She didn’t answer, but Crimson did sound off.

“I heard it through the grapevine that you all had some, let’s say, “unusualities” occurring out here,” the man said. “That’s all.”

When he had first heard the Crimson name outside, Thompson had recognized it immediately. William Robert Crimson was 23 when he was killed by Becca Reaugh during a domestic dispute. Becca Reaugh, who we now know as Becca Roller. Bobby Crimson’s older brother William Alan Crimson, who would now be about 48 years old, is supposed to be serving life on a rape and murder rap at the Arizona State Farm. In fact, Veronica Martinez helped put him away. Additional facet to the fact, Becca and Veronica met as a result of B.A.’s prosecution in the case.

Crimson must know those girls are out here, Thompson thought. And they must know he’s here. Of all the times for him to be trolling around, why now? Either he was just paroled, or his egress must correlate with the local “unusualities,” as he eloquently put it. Or a combination of both.

The detective also wondered what historical connection to this long story that the woman with the shotgun might have; and as for this he could not offer anything but guesses at this point. Anyway, he felt that fate, or the Rollers, or what’s the difference, had potentially put him in a funny position of reuniting these very historically odd bedfellows, to put it lightly.

“You do know Veronica and Becca are out here, right?” the detective stated flatly. It was a turn in conversation that put Thompson back on at-least-equal footing with his new friends.

After lunchtime on Sunday, the houseful of Lickers, Rollers, and a Plaiden were rising and shining at Sandy’s and Kitty’s condo. The girls had reached a consensus that the San Francisco Bay Area had become a hub of moon dog activity, incidental as it was to the recent drowning of the van full of Chino Wheeled Beavers derby squad in the San Francisco Bay. In their ongoing wayfinding discussion which had ensued since the arrival of Dusty and Rainy last night, they had determined that it was time for a foray south to clear them out of there. The bare fact is, it’s more economical and effective to do their sweeps where the enemy is more densely distributed.

About that time, Kitty took an incoming call from Thompson, who asked her to hand the phone over to Veronica. When Veronica got off the phone about two minutes later, she held a quick confabulation with Becca, though within earshot of anyone who cared to listen, regarding the surprising and interesting thrust of the detective’s phone call.
“He’s got B.A. Crimson up at some other I-5 motel near where we burned those dog-rats Friday night,” Veronica said. “He’s with some woman, and Thompson thinks they’re out here hunting The Black Dog. The detective said he assumed that Crimson knew we were out here, and so he raised the point to them himself.”

“Of all the people to pop up here and now,” Becca answered. “At least he’s coming out on our side. But know this: I’m not going to take any shit off of him regarding historical matters or much anything else either.”

“Don’t worry about it. Nobody’s taking it, and nobody’s dishing it out either,” Veronica answered. “Still water runs the deepest, and blessed be the ties that bind, and he’s either for us or against us, and shall I go on. I’ll read him the same riot act because we’re supposed to go meet them now. But that’s all pro forma. He’s here to help.”

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